Nevada bucks national trend — and loosens abortion laws
Nevada has first overall female-majority legislature in the U.S.
Nevada lawmakers are bucking a U.S. national trend toward more restrictive abortion laws by voting to repeal requirements that physicians document a pregnant woman's marital status and tell her about the "emotional implications" of an abortion.
Democrats in the State Assembly passed the bill in a largely party-line vote on Tuesday, the same day protesters across the country decried actions in other statehouses that toughen abortion laws.
Nevada has the first overall female-majority legislature in the country.
"When the rest of the country may feel hopeless, may feel bleak, they should look to Nevada as the shining beacon that we are for women's rights," Democratic Sen. Yvanna Cancela told dozens of bill supporters who rallied outside the Nevada Legislature before the vote. Some supporters at the rally held pink signs that said "protect safe, legal abortion."
The legislation also removes a criminal penalty for anyone who supplies a woman with medication to induce an abortion without the advice of a physician. That criminal statute also extends to anyone who uses an "instrument" to terminate a pregnancy without the advice of a physician.
Despite the Nevada bill, Cancela described actions by lawmakers in other states the last few weeks as "awful" in the push for reproductive rights for women.
"We're here today fighting a national fight and getting to see Nevada move forward," she told the crowd.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey last week signed the most stringent abortion legislation in the U.S. and made performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases. The bill spurred hundreds of people to protest in Alabama.
Governors in other states, such as Mississippi, Georgia and Ohio, have approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected.
Supporters of the Nevada legislation argue it will modernize the state's informed consent laws and reaffirm a woman's reproductive rights.
Republican lawmakers on Tuesday argued against a portion of the bill that mandates a physician to document a pregnant woman's age. Assemblywoman Alexis Hansen, a Republican, argued the possibility of a negative emotional impact from an abortion should be part of the informed consent process.
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"This bill is a slippery slope that (will) leave women and children less informed and more susceptible to exploitation," she said.
The legislation cleared the Senate last month in a 12-9 vote.
Cheryl Bruce, executive director of the Nevada Senate Democrats, said the bill now must receive a passing voice vote from the Senate before going to the desk of Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak. His office did not immediately return a message seeking comment on whether he would sign the bill.